“Every child you pass in the hall has a story that needs to be heard. Maybe you were the one meant to hear it.”
I came across this inspirational quote on Twitter some time ago, and I can honestly say that it has stuck with me every day since. I won’t say that it totally changed my practice, as I feel that I’ve always been the kind of principal that would make time for students, but serves me as friendly reminder. Once you’re really tuned in to it you will be surprised how many times you hear “Can I tell you something?” from your students.
I had the pleasure of walking into the building the other morning with our kindergarten students. If you haven’t experienced this before, I liken it to one of those feel-good videos of puppies in a ball pit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gaiw2hk3Be0). It’s all wonder, all curiosity, all excitement, all the time. And you know what? Every single student wanted to tell me a story. I can tell you the visit wasn’t on my agenda for the day, but making and taking the time for those students made a good day great, not only for me, but (I hope) for those students too.
The experience extended to visits with many students, in all grades, throughout the week. Despite the age or grade of the student, they all wanted to tell me a story. Some took a bit more encouragement than others (our grade 6 students aren’t quite puppies in a ball pit), but they were all happy to talk. I learn so much about, and from, our students in a simple, casual conversation.
One of the words that I hear constantly is “busy”. Adults are busy, kids are busy…life is busy. It’s become an almost automatic response in small talk. I don’t disagree, life IS busy. However, in our profession we have to remember that no matter how busy we are, there is always a student and a story that takes precedence over the work of the day.
Over the next few days, I encourage you to make this kind of time for your students. Your interest, time and visibility make a real difference in your building. I also hope that sharing this powerful motivational quote might serve as a friendly reminder of the importance of this commitment.